7 – Mystery

Mysterious death or a crime to be solved. Often within a closed circle of suspects, each suspect is usually provided with a credible motive and a reasonable opportunity for committing the crime. The central character is often a detective (like Sherlock Holmes,

Mystery fiction can involve a supernatural mystery in which the solution does not have to be logical and even in which there is no crime involved. Supernatural horror in the vein of Grand Guignol.

Below are 20 plot points commonly found in mystery novels, particularly those written by Agatha Christie (known for her Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple series) and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (known for his Sherlock Holmes stories).

  1. Introduction of the detective: The story begins with the introduction of the brilliant detective, often renowned for their deductive skills and unique personality. Example: In Agatha Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” Hercule Poirot is introduced as the detective investigating the murder of Roger Ackroyd.
  2. Murder or crime scene discovery: The story kicks off with the discovery of a murder or a mysterious crime scene. Example: In Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” the body of Sir Charles Baskerville is found on the moor, with strange paw prints nearby.
  3. Gathering of suspects: The detective assembles a group of suspects who have motives or opportunities to commit the crime. Example: In Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” Poirot gathers the passengers on the train as suspects when a murder occurs on board.
  4. Clues and red herrings: The detective uncovers various clues, some of which are misleading red herrings, leading both the detective and the reader on a twisting path. Example: In “The Sign of Four” by Conan Doyle, Holmes finds a mysterious map, a broken treasure chest, and a wooden-legged man as potential clues to the case.
  5. Interrogations and interviews: The detective interviews suspects, witnesses, and anyone related to the case to gather more information. Example: In Christie’s “And Then There Were None,” the remaining characters start questioning each other as the body count rises.
  6. Complicated relationships: Mysteries often involve complex relationships and hidden secrets among the characters, which may play a crucial role in the resolution. Example: In “Appointment with Death” by Christie, a domineering matriarch’s relationships with her family members become central to the investigation.
  7. Investigative setbacks: The detective encounters setbacks and challenges while trying to solve the case, creating tension and suspense. Example: In “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” by Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes faces numerous obstacles in discovering the source of the mysterious whistling sound.
  8. Breakthrough moment: The detective has a sudden realization or breakthrough that provides a new perspective on the case. Example: In Christie’s “The Murder of the Orient Express,” Poirot has a revelation that changes the entire direction of the investigation.
  9. Reconstruction of events: The detective reconstructs the sequence of events leading up to the crime, often presenting the facts to the suspects. Example: In “The Five Orange Pips” by Conan Doyle, Holmes reconstructs the events leading to the deaths caused by a secret society.
  10. Hidden motives: The motives behind the crime are unveiled, showing the complex reasons driving the perpetrator. Example: In Christie’s “The ABC Murders,” Poirot unravels the killer’s motive for choosing victims in alphabetical order.
  11. False accusations: Innocent characters may face false accusations, adding more layers of mystery and drama. Example: In “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot” by Conan Doyle, Holmes must prove that the local guide was not responsible for the deaths.
  12. Race against time: The detective faces a time constraint, urging them to solve the case before another crime occurs or a culprit escapes. Example: In Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” Poirot must find the murderer before the train reaches its destination.
  13. Climactic confrontation: The detective gathers all suspects and reveals the truth behind the crime, leading to a dramatic confrontation. Example: In “The Adventure of the Final Problem” by Conan Doyle, Holmes confronts his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, at the Reichenbach Falls.
  14. Twists and surprises: Mystery novels often have surprising plot twists that challenge the reader’s assumptions. Example: In Christie’s “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” the murderer’s identity is revealed to be someone the reader least expects.
  15. Confession or confrontation: The culprit confesses their crime or confronts the detective before facing justice. Example: In “The Adventure of the Norwood Builder” by Conan Doyle, the accused confesses his guilt after Holmes exposes the truth.
  16. Wrap-up and resolution: The detective explains how they solved the case and ties up all loose ends. Example: In Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” Poirot presents his findings to the authorities and explains the intricate details of the murder.
  17. Justice served: The perpetrator faces the consequences of their actions, whether through the legal system or other means. Example: In “The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” the villainous stepfather meets a grisly end after being exposed.
  18. Reflection on the case: The detective reflects on the solved case and its impact on their life or the lives of those involved. Example: In Christie’s “Death on the Nile,” Poirot contemplates the tragic events and the human condition.
  19. Secondary romance or subplot: Often, there is a romantic subplot or a side mystery intertwined with the main investigation. Example: In “The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor” by Conan Doyle, Holmes uncovers a hidden romantic connection during the investigation.
  20. Return to normalcy: The story concludes with the detective returning to their usual routine, ready for the next adventure. Example: In Christie’s “The Murder at the Vicarage,” Miss Marple continues with her daily life after solving the mystery in her village.

These plot points are common in mystery novels by Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and many other writers in the genre. They create a compelling narrative structure that keeps readers engaged and guessing until the final revelation.

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